Teacher Proposes A 12-Hour School Day To Break Children’s Smartphone Addictions

Andrew O’Neill, the head teacher of All Saints Catholic College in Notting Hill, West London, has unveiled an ambitious plan to combat what he describes as a “100 percent phone addiction” among his students. Under this initiative, the school will implement a 12-hour school day, with students expected to arrive at 7 am and remain until 7 pm, engaging in a variety of activities aimed at deterring them from spending excessive time on their devices at home.


O’Neill, the architect of this innovative approach, expressed concern over the detrimental effects of smartphone usage on the younger generation, citing it as a contributing factor to increased apathy and anxiety among students. In an interview with The Times, he revealed disturbing discoveries made while confiscating phones, including instances of cyberbullying, sexting, and even catfishing, where students impersonate others online to harm their peers.


Despite being rated as “outstanding,” All Saints Catholic College has grappled with the pervasive influence of smartphones since implementing a ban on their use in 2016. While students are prohibited from carrying phones, they are permitted to store them in bags or lockers. However, O’Neill believes that this measure has not gone far enough in curbing phone addiction and its associated risks.

O’Neill expressed particular concern over students’ diminishing ability to form genuine connections and communicate effectively in real-life situations. He observed a troubling trend of students prioritizing online interactions over face-to-face engagement, leading to a decline in social skills and emotional intelligence.


In response to these challenges, O’Neill advocates for a holistic approach that extends beyond the school environment. He emphasizes the importance of parental involvement in monitoring their children’s online activities and fostering a healthy balance between screen time and other pursuits. O’Neill himself limits his own children’s access to smartphones, opting for basic “brick” phones without social media applications.


Drawing from his own childhood experiences in Barton, near Darlington, Durham, O’Neill envisions a return to simpler times where children spent their days playing outdoors rather than being glued to screens. He hopes to recreate a similar environment at All Saints Catholic College, where students can enjoy a childhood free from the distractions of modern technology.

In addition to addressing the immediate concerns surrounding phone addiction, O’Neill believes that instilling values of responsibility and accountability in students will better prepare them for the challenges of adulthood. He advocates for collaboration between schools, parents, and social services to ensure the safety and well-being of young people in an increasingly digital world.


The initiative at All Saints Catholic College reflects a growing recognition of the need to reassess traditional approaches to education in light of evolving societal norms and technological advancements. By prioritizing student welfare and holistic development, O’Neill hopes to equip the next generation with the skills and resilience needed to thrive in an ever-changing landscape.

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